1961 was an election year, so when I was not in Canberra I would be campaigning in Stirling – door-knocking or at meetings here and there – visiting homes after telephone calls to my office in town (no electorate offices or staff provided like today). At 6pm. I would pick up Joan and off home for a good meal.
When Prime Minister Menzies made a visit to Perth during the 1961 campaign he came from the Parliamentary Offices nearby and walked down Zimpels Arcade. He was with Fred Chaney, the Federal Member for Perth. I joined them and had a little chat with the PM as we walked down towards the Terrace and our other shop. We still had every-day greeting cards in the Terrace shop and these faced into the Arcade. Bob Menzies reached over and picked out a card from the display. In large print the card read:
“CONGRATULATIONS TO A V.I.P.”
Menzies chuckled “Just the one for me”.
Advertising – Introducing the Liberal Team for Stirling. Source: Doug Cash Collection
Another few words and he was off to walk along the Terrace. He saw a street sweeper on the job with a broom and shovel and went over to talk to him for quite a few minutes. Passers-by stopped for a moment to watch this chat between two men with jobs so much opposite to each other’s. A few magic moments in politics, and in the life of the street sweeper.
With an election on the cards I worked the Stirling seat as best I could. Parliamentary sittings took more time for WA Members because of the long hours in the air and at airports. Sydney and Adelaide and Melbourne MPs had it much better. Shorter flights and more flight time options. When the Viscounts came on we went direct to Melbourne over the water and then flew up to Canberra. Back home that way most times – sometimes to Perth via Adelaide.
Advertising – From: Doug Cash – Personal Message to all Householders – Stirling Federal Division – undated, circa 1958-1961. Source: Doug Cash Collection
Election day arrived – I worked hard at serving the electors and their families – my supporters in the Liberal Party branches worked hard to get me over the line as did Liberal Headquarters. My friends from days long gone by gave me votes that might have gone elsewhere – letters were dropped by helpers from all walks of life. My dad and our daughters, Lyn and Pamela, went along with me while we all dropped leaflets in many letterboxes in the Bassendean–Midland areas. Tough country but some votes. Joan was at the shops every day but came out with me many times when I was door-knocking/pamphlet dropping on weekends and talking politics.
Our 1958 win by 200 votes left no room for being too optimistic. Over the three years up to the 1961 election things changed. The electors in Stirling jumped from 48,000 to 54,000. Swan to 47,000 and Perth to 31,000. New State Housing Projects were constant in Stirling and polling booths in or near to them never favoured me or the Liberal Party. Despite all that the 1961 election found me 287 short on the count. Really 144 voters making the difference.
My party could have used an extra seat and the Menzies Government would have had a majority of two rather than just one. Letters of regrets from Prime Minister Menzies, Harold Holt and many others helps a bit. I still have their letters of regret for my close defeat. Active politics were still to be a part of my life.
Doug Cash Collection – Politics – 1961 Federal Election